Ski­ing the blues

To de­velop ski­ing on ice it is best to start by cre­at­ing a more stable po­si­tion.

Ski & Snow - - Technical Feature - by Brid­get Leg­navsky CEO / Pres­i­dent NZSIA Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor for Alpine - NZSIA Demon­stra­tion team - NZSIA Se­nior ex­am­iner and trainer for NZSIA

Shiny sur­faces that can ap­pear bluish in colour and make loud scrap­ing sounds as your skis slide over the sur­face are the senses as­so­ci­ated with ski­ing ice. Ice refers to snow that has a high mois­ture con­tent that has frozen and be­come very hard with a glazed sur­face. The glazed sur­face re­duces the fric­tion be­tween the ski and the snow, which makes it feel very slip­pery. This sur­face makes it dif­fi­cult for the edge of the ski to pen­e­trate and grip and al­lows the ski to slide side­ways very eas­ily. To make it even worse the hard sur­face makes fall­ing very painful. Less fric­tion and edge grip can make it chal­leng­ing to con­trol speed. Not only do you feel less con­trol but the peo­ple around you have less con­trol too. Ski­ing on ice is best started on ter­rain that is be­low your usual com­fort level. In say­ing all of this, ski­ing on ice is a su­perb way to de­velop ac­cu­racy in the co­or­di­na­tion of move­ments. Ski­ing on ice re­quires pre­cise con­trol of move­ments. For most of you this will mean be­ing less in­tense and re­duc­ing the rate and range of move­ments to cre­ate sub­tle and ac­cu­rate move­ment. To de­velop ski­ing on ice it is best to start by cre­at­ing a more stable po­si­tion. Sta­bil­ity is gained by widen­ing the base of sup­port and low­er­ing the cen­tre of grav­ity. Mov­ing the feet apart will widen the base of sup­port and lim­it­ing the ex­ten­sion move­ment will com­pact the body. Make sure that your body weight is dis­trib­uted along the length of ski so that the whole edge is used to en­sure good grip along the length of the ski.

Lat­eral move­ments are prob­a­bly the most ef­fected by ice as it be­comes dif­fi­cult for the edge of the ski to pen­e­trate the snow. De­pend­ing on how hard it is and your skill level the adap­ta­tion can be quite dif­fer­ent. If the snow is icy it seems most ap­pro­pri­ate to try to cre­ate as much force (by us­ing more edge and more speed) as pos­si­ble to make the ski pen­e­trate the sur­face of the snow. For a very high level skier this will work. For the av­er­age recre­ational skier you will prob­a­bly slide out or fall inside as you may not have the fi­nesse and strength to make the ski grip. In this sit­u­a­tion you need to do com­pletely the op­po­site. Re­duce the edge so that the cen­tre of grav­ity is not so far inside and you can bal­ance over the ski feel­ing the force or pres­sure down­wards through the ski. This means that if the ski does slide you can move with it and stay over it rather than fall­ing inside and hav­ing the feet slide out from un­der­neath you. With the cen­tre of grav­ity trav­el­ling closer to the arc of the feet the edge an­gle can be con­trolled with lower leg move­ments. This will help you de­velop fine and pre­cise lat­eral move­ments.

As your skill level de­vel­ops and you get to feel how the snow re­acts, what grips and what doesn’t grip, you will be able to judge how much you can move inside and will pro­gres­sively be able to be more con­fi­dent in bring­ing the ski up to edge ear­lier in the turn. Your con­fi­dence will de­velop most rapidly if your skis are sharp and well tuned and your boots fit firmly. As your edg­ing skills de­velop make sure that your up­per body re­mains stable. As the edge en­gages it is im­por­tant that the cen­tre of grav­ity does not move too far inside the out­side foot. Keep­ing the up­per body level to the slope will keep pres­sure on the out­side ski forc­ing it to pen­e­trate the sur­face of the ice. Make sure that the shape of turn con­trols the speed. Com­plete your turns by bring­ing the skis across the fall line and make sure your turn­ing move­ments are grad­ual and con­sis­tent. The skis are un­likely to be grip­ping the snow so turn­ing your legs needs to be slow, con­stant and con­trolled, it is very easy to over turn the legs with such lit­tle re­sis­tance. Take time to make sure the up­per body stays stable by tight­en­ing your tummy mus­cles as turn­ing and edg­ing move­ments are ap­plied. It is chal­leng­ing to keep this up­per body stable when your feet can slip or change di­rec­tion with­out ex­pect­ing it. Th­ese are some point­ers to help get­ting go­ing on the ice. Re­mem­ber ice is great for your ski­ing as it de­vel­ops pre­ci­sion. Don’t be afraid of it, in­stead use it to im­prove your ski­ing skills.

Big Dave Tay­lor - Carv­ing

Be­low: Pres­sure down through the ski with­out mov­ing too far inside. Bot­tom: Keep­ing the up­per body level to the slope keeps pres­sure on the skis and keeps them grip­ping.

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