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Going Downhill

This is an excerpt from Alpine Skiing by Ronald Kipp.

Going Downhill

Now is when the wind will be in your face. This not only sounds exciting, it may offer a cool relief from the physical effort of trudging up the hill. Ideally the hill you are on has a flat area at the bottom, and even better, a slight rise after that. This type of hill will allow you to come to a natural stop. If you are not fortunate to have this flat area at the bottom of the hill, skip ahead to the technique tip on page 115. Ideally, it is best to perform a straight run first, but if you are without a flat area to stop, it is possible to skip the straight run and learn the braking wedge to slow down and stop. The good news is that less hill climbing is involved, but initially it will prove a bit more difficult. Ideally, we would like to isolate the skills of the straight run (keeping the skis running straight) and wedge (holding the skis in the wedge position) before adding the skill of pushing the skis out into a wedge from a straight run, but eventually we would end up there anyway.

Bullfighter Turn

To face down the hill, do the bullfighter turn. From the sidestepping position with your skis across the hill, make sure you have a comfortable perch on the slope. Slide your hands from the pole grips to the tops of the grips. Turn your upper body so it is facing down the hill. Reach out and downhill with the poles, placing them firmly in the snow like a matador addressing a bull. With your arms straight and in line with the poles, step your skis around with small steps until they are facing straight down the hill. Your poles and ski tips should be about in line and at the same level on the hill. Since your arms are straight, it should not be too much effort to hold yourself, although as soon as you feel you are in balance with your skis (remember the stance, page 110), you are free to start down the hill in a straight run.

Straight Run

From the bullfighter position, step your skis to a parallel position until they are aiming straight down the hill (figure 7.8). Let gravity take over and allow the poles to pivot forward. Move your hands from the tops of the ski poles and grasp the pole grips. This will allow your hands and arms to assume the lunchroom-tray position as the pole tips come out of the snow. Make sure the pole tips are behind your body and pointing backward. Staying flexed in the ankles and knees will permit you to stay balanced between your toe- and heelpieces. A slight lean forward should be felt; you want to keep up with your skis. If you could watch yourself from the side, your general body position would be perpendicular to the hill.

Congratulations—you have just skied!

Read more from Alpine Skiing by Ronald Kipp.

More Excerpts From Alpine Skiing