Saturday, May 5, 2007

Back Country Moron

Okay, let me first say, these aren't my turns, there wasn't nearly this much snow, but its the best photo I could find of short radius turns, as mentioned below. Next time, I'll take my camera. Read on for the nonsense...

Hi. My name is Kate. Every time I get out in the back country, I ski like an idiot. Why is this? For some reason, I forget that we are skiing, I am hiking away and then it is time to turn around and ski down and I look at my skis and think... uh... what do I do with these?

And by the time I get it figured out, I am usually on my last 2 turns. Why oh why? The snow at Bridger was lovely today. Soft, spring velvet. I was skinning in my tank top. I was happy.

Then we were at the top of a very easy run, Thunder Road, and I just couldn't ski to save my life. AT THE FREAKIN' SKI AREA! I mean, come on. I expect this when I've just hiked 6 hours and I am looking at a chute full of avalanche debris. But at the top of Thunder Road? COME ON!!

So my first six turns just SUCKED. And that, of course, is nearly the entirety of the black part of the run. And then I got it figured out, and I did some outside ski turns, and I felt myself suddenly feeling the skis, the snow, the movement.

This is the first time that I have felt the sidecut on my Shucksans operate. Depending on the pressure I applied, at what part of the turn, the skis were rolling and turning under me, and my body was moving through the arc described by my feet. This is the second time I've felt my body moving down hill through the series of arcs, which is a great feeling, but the first time I've felt it at Bridger Bowl.

I moved to small radius turns, the turns I was having the most trouble with at Snowbird, and felt them stay consistently shaped, the skis squirting and then steering back under me. Suddenly I thought of what so many have told me, that when I drop my shoulder (IE don't level to the terrain) I fall back and to the inside of the turn. But I have been so busy thinking about turn shape, in order to have ANY turnshape. And then, when I have been thinking about leveling, my turn shape goes to hell and I gather speed whilst trying to level.

But I had this strange sensation today of feeling my feet travel back and forth underneath me, and thinking of Mike and things he has said about feeling, thinking and flow, and I just sort of... let it go. So I ski badly. Whatever, this feels pretty good, I am going to go with what feels good. And letting go of it, suddenly I realized I was rotated and tipped uphill on my right hand turns, and I thought... not of moving in the direction of the new turn off my new uphill foot, but of just NOT being back and inside.

I thought of how back and inside is twisted and tipped, and instead, I wanted to feel that clean arc under me, so I just lightened the new uphill foot, and straightened out a bit... not as an instructive "now do this, then do this" but just more as a "huh, lets not be back and inside any more". And the turns down the bottom of Thunder Road felt so good...

And when I got to the bottom, I looked up at my tracks, and I was happy and not surprised to see my first set of clean tracks that matched left to right from top to bottom. Same turn shape, same amount of skid, same size. Same. And looking at the tracks, I could feel in my lower body again the inside arch pressure pushing the camber of the ski down into the snow, and the little squirt nimble turn action of the skis as they steered under me, rather than running away under me. First to this side, and then again on that side. And this gyroscopic feel of my upper body floating in a powerful line above this buttery softness.

So, skiing.

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