Hey, Nice Curves!

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
The Downhill Report, December 1996

Hey, Nice Curves!

Those shapely new skis will do the carving. You just have to let them.
By Katie Arnold

The long afternoons of cursing your skis through quad-burning turns are over. Everyone, let's welcome the age of the shaped ski, in which carving clean, snowboardy arcs is as pleasurable and easy as tilting your feet, applying a modicum of pressure, and letting the "hourglass" sidecut do the dirty work for you. Here to explain this passive-aggressive technique is Bill Irwin, director of development at Elan (a pioneer in the shaped ski market) and former assistant director of the Sugarbush ski school. "Keep in mind that it's a continuum," Irwin says, "not a series of isolated movements. Link them together and you'll be carving like Tomba."

Irwin's suggestions: With your skis pointed down the fall line, stay balanced by distributing your weight equally between the ball and heel of your foot. Then, as you move your skis from the flat position into the turn, tilt your feet and ankles into the hill, rolling your skis onto their turning edges. And remember: You must be patient to make these things work like they're supposed to. "Don't be in a hurry to push your skis into their new position," says Irwin. "Take your time and wait for the skis to react."

With this in mind, gradually exaggerate the tilt of your feet and let the skis take over. You'll feel the rest of your body gracefully following the elegant parabola of your skis into the turn. Let your knees and hips lean into the hill, and allow pressure to build on the outside ski. "There's no need to actively unweight your inside ski," says Irwin. "The pressure will shift naturally."

Thus far your skis have done most of the work, earning back the considerable money you put into them. Now it's time for you to pitch in: To control the radius of the turn, use your inside ski as a guiding device--increase the edge angle for a tighter turn or reduce it to create a giant-slalom arc. Finish the turn by flattening your skis, checking your balance, and preparing to transfer weight to your new inside edge. "Accept the fact that there are forces at work here beyond your control--namely, gravity and momentum," says Irwin. "And just go with them." Good advice anywhere.

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