By John Lymer
8 members took part in the January visit to the dry slope at Rossendale. Peter of Ski Rossendale provided the instruction, initially helping a new member who hadn't skied in a while, before then turning his attention to the rest of us ... who had no such excuse.
The slope was running quite fast and the weather was dry and frosty.
Peter kept it simple. Unweighting was never mentioned, nor was pole planting, nor was rotating of ankles or any such. Instead, we were told to stand with our weight quite central, over the balls of our feet. Not forward and not back, but just fairly neutral. He also wanted to see us use a fairly wide stance. His theory on that score was that, when we'd seen in the dim and distant past, French and Austrian instructors with feet together, they only did this on green and blue runs. On anything steeper, skiers automatically take up a wider stance, like the racers for example. It's not as stylish, but it's more stable. He's right, much though I groaned every time he told me my feet were too close together. I know when I'm skiing fast down steeper terrain my stance is wider and I stay a bit lower.
All this is aimed at perfecting carved turns by allowing the skis to bend, rather than keeping the skis flatter and skidding the turns.
So, there we were with our wider stance, feet hip-width apart and weight on the balls of our feet. Then, all we had to do to turn was move our hips across. Not to twist them. So, if you're finishing a left turn, just move your hips to the right and you'll then turn right. As your hips move across above your skis, the weight begins to shift over onto the other edges and the skis lean over further. Your legs change from stretched at the centre of the turn, to compressed while they pass beneath the body, then stretched at the middle of the next turn. The effect is really the same as the unweighting which we used to be taught, but it's a lot more subtle. What we now achieve is smooth S-shaped carved turns, which make no noise. The skis are never on their flats either. The edge change from one side to the other is very gradual and never stops. Your weight is also a bit more evenly spread between the two skis. None of the "90% of your weight on your downhill ski" that we used to hear.
The group seemed to like it and all felt that this technique improved their skiing. Now it's a case of keeping it up.
Peter kept it simple. I hope I haven't made it complicated!