Wouldn't it be great to ski with an equally easy style, whether on bumps, piste or back country? Changes in the technology of skis themselves over the last few decades have led to the development of a wide range of all-mountain and free-ride skis; equipment is more responsive and versatile than ever before, giving many skiers the confidence - and the capacity - to explore previously unchartered territory. All that remains is to match this versatility of ski to a greater flexibility within our technique.
For many of us, there is a defined technique to guide us through each phase of our skiing lives, but little is taught about combination, improvisation and transition - the very watchwords of free-ride.
Just like walking, skiing is not a question of balance, but rather loss of it. At high speeds or in the bumps, the variables (pitch, speed, terrain etc.) are continually shifting and the goal is 'control' - relative to your descent.
Remove from your mind fixed images of what a skier should look like - just relax, adopt a natural 'ready' position and try to apply these general rules:
- Avoid rigidity - flex angles, knees and hips, and don't tighten your boots too much.
- Anticipate the next turn by angling your body towards the start of its intended path.
- Your arms slightly apart and ahead of you - this will aid general stability as you alter pace, incline and rate of turn.
- Don't have your skis too close together - a strong open stance will enable you to maintain control through uneven and cruddy terrain.
Think of a boxer waiting for the bell or a goalkeeper waiting for a penalty to be kicked - alert, poised and responsive. Combine these sensations with a relaxed approach - and enjoy the ride!