Imagine my surprise when a facebook friend pointed out a flaw in my ski technique. At first I was peeved, then my curiosity piqued, then I was consumed with this constructive carving criticism or unsolicited ski tip (depends upon how you look at it, right?). His pointer:
"To improve the turn shape bring the downhill ski up to be equal with the uphill ski. Both skis are equal to make the transition to the next turn fluid. You don't want your downhill ski to fall back and behind," Jim Dougherty, of the Snow Pro iPhone split screen app.
It turns out, pun intended, that this is a common shaped ski situation, when ski tips are uneven - you don't finish what you started - a completed turn. As you are carving a turn, take a look down to see if your downhill ski even falls behind your uphill ski? This simple check and correction can really make a big difference in your technique.
I experimented with this little pointer, and found that with a little tweak, my ski turns really improved.
Sure enough, keeping your ski tips almost parallel helps you carve most effectively, and keeps your "knees above skis." The more you tip or tilt your skis on edge, the more your uphill (inside) knee bends and your downhill ski wants to slide back. Pull your uphill ski and boot back to maintain more even ski pressure, or move your downhill ski forward in the turn. Either way, this simple drill distributes your weight and power on both skis for better carving (read: less skid). It also reduces rotation - that bad habit of turning your upper body and arms with your skis. You get more resilience and dynamic performance (better bend from your boards) by completing the turn too. At the end of your turn, shift and roll to the other side and start the process again, lather - rinse - repeat.
The best place to practice this technique is a low angle, well groomed slope, a trail run out is perfect for experimenting since you can get the sensation at slow speeds before taking it up a notch on steeper terrain. Be sure if you are making big arcs that you have sufficient room to avoid cutting off another skier or rider. No one likes a trail hog.
Remember this is free ski advice, worth what you paid for it, and no substitution for a private ski clinic. I haven't taught skiing or given any technical tips since I was a ski instructor at Smugglers Notch two decades ago. So take this ski tip with a clump of snow, but I wanted to share because it helped me. Enough tech talk, toy with it if you wish, and enjoy your skiing.
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.