By John Lymer
Peter Hinde, who had taken one of the sessions last year, was our instructor this time. Peter works full time (virtually) at the slope and was accompanied by a trainee instructor, Trevor. The emphasis, as it often is on these 2 hour sessions, was on how to improve carving technique.
There was the usual advice about stance - hip width apart; not too wide because that is uncomfortable and not too narrow (I know, you've always skied that way!) because that isn't as stable. We were told to feel the pressure on the big toe of the outside ski and little toe of the inside one as we initiated and executed each carve (or attempt at). This really meant the ball of the foot near each big/little toe, but concentrated the mind on trying to maintain continuous edge pressure.
A new piece of advice (to me anyway) was to lower the outside hand to help pressure the outside ski. I think the aim here was to think about lowering the hand, but sub-consciously you probably also slightly drop the hip and get a bit more pressure on the inside edge of the outside/downhill ski. Try it and see what you think!
We were told to picture a clock face on the slope. 12 O'clock is looking uphill. Our carved turns were to begin between 1 and 2 O'clock. This means that you actually lean downhill and begin to pressure the downhill edges of both skis just before reaching the fall line. This may go against some of what you have been taught many years ago, but it is the norm for truly carving turns. It does have to be done at speed though, or it will feel very unstable and completely wrong. Eventually, turns flow from one side to the other in a real "S" rather than a more pointy "Z". When you get this far, the next goal is to increase the lean of your whole leg to see how far away you can get your skis from your upper body in the middle part of each turn. The emphasis here is very much on the whole leg - if the knee is bent sideways very much this exerts a lot of pressure and there are just too many knee injuries - don't go there!Finally, on to pole planting. Don't do it unless you are doing quicker, shorter turns, or you are on steeper terrain (and probably skidding more of the turns anyway). With longer GS-style turns you don't need to pole plant and to do so may encourage an up and down movement of the body. This destroys any continuous pressure on the ski edges, which is so important for carving smooth turns.
The Club picked up the bill for instruction (why don't more members take advantage of these opportunities?), so all we had to pay was the normal slope fee, which seemed very cheap. Can't wait until next month!
I asked Peter whether facilities like X-scape, the new indoor, artificial snow slope at Castleford, was affecting business at Rossendale. He reckons it has reduced numbers on the main slope noticeably. Rossendale hope to fight back with the proposed laying (planned for April to June 05) of a carpet-type surface on the main slope. This will replace the honeycomb dendix which has served well over the years, but puts many people off because of the risk of injury and the amount of friction from such matting. Another advantage of carpet is that it would allow a terrain park with proper half-pipe and real moguls, instead of the "waves" at the top of the existing slope. Indoor snow slopes can't offer such features. It's to be hoped that Rossendale finds its niche in this way - a recent article elsewhere says there are proposals for another artificial snow slope, this time at the Trafford Centre. This would be 180m long by 40m wide, due to open in 2006.
Thank you John for an excellent and informative article - Ed.