Does Technique Matter? Corduroy XC Tracks,  Beginning XC, Making Turns, Think Arc, Robert Frost, How Did You Learn?

This week we reflect on how you ski and how you learned. We learned by following a fellow college student down the baby trails at Song Mt in Tully, NY, many decades ago. “Just do this”, he said showing me how to snow plow, then a stem christie. And that’s how I turned for many years: stem christie.  Couldn’t get past it.  Imprinted. Embedded. Habituated.

That was in the years of 205 cm skis and, yes, leather boots. After a long hiatus of non-skiing, I returned to the sport with new short skis and better boots.  I could shake the stem, but, honestly, when things got touchy, I stemmed. A long, long overdue lesson gave me some concepts to practice that helped stamped the stem and take advantage of those new skis.

All of which got us to wonder about technique, especially when ski coach Bob Trueman sent us a provocative article on forgetting about “making turns” and thinking “arcs” instead. His is a conceptual view of what is happening when going down a hill with skis strapped on feet. We are curious what you think.

Pat McCloskey, a ski instructor, gives us a view of slow turning and why that helps control along with a clear video of slow turning practiced by Norwegian national team member Henrik Kristoffersen.

There is such as thing as “vicarious learning”, that is, learning by watching someone perform.  If you were a Warren Miller fan back in the day, you couldn’t help but pick up what “rhythm” meant and how “flow” looked. That helped frame the mental part of what had to be done to create those arcs. The physical behavior was another matter.

Let us know what your experience in learning to ski and what the “mental model” is that you keep in your brain as you arc down the hill.  Or if there is anything in your brain, for that matter, and maybe that’s the point.

This Week

An arc is a segment of a circle.

The Skiing Weatherman Herb Stevens is calling for coast-to-coast snow in one form or another over the next couple of weeks.  Just in time as we hear snow is needed in the Rockies and Northeast. Click here.

We have an unprecedented third week in a row with a Snow In Literature poem.  This time, it’s Robert Frost’s wry Brown’s Descent, Or The Willy-Nilly Slide. Old Robert had a sense of humor, New England-style. Click here.

As mentioned there are two articles on ski technique: Bob Trueman’s Don’t Do Turns, and Pat McCloskey’s Slow Start, Good Turns. We’d love your comments.

Finally, we also have two Make More Tracks articles, a great how-to video on beginning cross-country skiing from Breckenridge Nordic Center.  Even if you feel like you know what you are doing on skinny skis, you’ll pick up some neat tips in this video.

Arc thinking makes a difference. Perhaps.

And correspondent Jonathan Wiesel explains why ski trails are “corrugated”. There is a reason the corduroy shape is used to groom ski trails.

Thanks for reading  Tell your friends, and remember, there are more of us every day and we aren’t going away.

Credit: M. Maginn






One Comment

  1. Kelli Majiros says:

    I’ve always tried to learn and commit to mastering “one new thing” each year. I had been working for 4 years on rounding my turns more. Then my friend and ski instructor “Michael” taught me DPUT (down, plant up, turn) in today’s PSIA language FTET (flex, touch, extend, turn) and instantly people noticed my turns were looking better! Thanks “Michael”! I just keep asking people for ONE THING I can change in my skiing and try and DO that. Eventually something clicks!

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