Do You Have A Plan For Your Debut? Marc Does.

My favorite condition for my first run on my first day of skiing on any trip is freshly raked frozen granular.  Why?  Because I can feel the edges of the ski carve in the snow.

Early enough in the season, even if one skis out west, you’ll see more hard packed snow than powder which works.  But, only on frozen granular can you can hear the skis cut through the snow.  The crunching and scraping sound of skis on frozen granular is unique and it sends a confirming message to my brain that I am skiing again.  On hard packed powder, you have to listen for the singing sound of the skis cutting through the snow.  It is there, just hard to hear above the ambient noise.

For each first run, I follow the same drill that puts the racer, the rec skier, the instructor and the ski tester in me in instant conflict.

The racer in me wants to go fast, straight down the fall line.  At my advanced age, I still like to ski fast but force myself to ski slower because can at 74, my bones don’t break, they shatter.

The rec skier wants to charge off, get to the bottom and up before the lift lines build.

The instructor part of my brain says make the perfect turn in, of course, perfect form, but not in the Final Forms that PSIA pushed in the 70s.  Body position – square over the skis, knees flexed, back straight, arms out and bent, ready to plant the pole – is important to enable one to control the skis and speed.

Since I rent skis, I’m back being a ski tester.  How does the ski carve?  How easy are they to turn?

My technique is the same for my first turn.  Pick-up some speed and as the skis come through the fall line, press forward with my knees and edge the ski.  Plant the pole, unweight, roll my knees ….  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m old fashioned.  After three or four turns, I stop and look at my tracks.

Why?  Because on frozen granular the tracks tell me where I unweighted and where I finished each turn.  There edges should make straight lines and there should be a bit of feather at the end of the turn where I set the edge to build a platform for the next turn.

It is about muscle memory.  My last turns were in April, eight long months ago.  Technique is important because it is how one controls one’s speed on a steep pitch and how one navigates through any condition.  And, I’m a year older.

First four turns examined, I make another set and look back.  The snow tells me how good my technique is.  Sometimes, it takes three or four segments to convince me that my turns are O.K., other years, it has taken only one or two.  It just depends on the snow, the skis and me.  But the joy is back because I’m turning skis on a mountain.


  1. Scott Liebman says:

    Funny that my plan is similar although I usually make more than 4 turns before stopping. Perhaps that is because the author is my older brother…..

  2. Marc Liebman says:

    In the interest of maintaining family unity, the author will merely point out that until he turned 70, he was the better skier of the two us!!! Now all that matters is that I can still ski well.!

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