There were not very many lessons today, so there was plenty of time to ski and work on our own technique. Early in the day we worked on fore and aft balance, the need to adjust your balance from the front to the back in order to stay “on top” of your skis. In the deep powder we currently have, being able to make this adjustment is vital. Too much forward and your skis dive in and make you stop, too much backward and you lose your balance and the skis shoot up and you end up on your butt. One of the exercises that helped me here was bouncing up and down in a straight run. It gave me a feeling for the snow and helped me to adjust to the bottomless powder.
As the snow gets more packed and we generally try to avoid the stuff that is so deep and stops you, my focus shifted today to the concept of the Fulcrum Mechanism. Here is how I’ve heard it explained. Lift one ski off of the snow and try to “turn” the ski that is on the snow without moving your upper body. It’s impossible. Now with both skis on the snow, with both feet locked together, try and “turn” your feet without moving your upper body. It’s pretty much impossible again. Now stand with your feet wider apart, at least as wide as you shoulders and try to “turn” your feet without moving your upper body. You can do it! This shows how much more effiecient it is to “turn” your feet without using your upper body if they are a comfortable distance apart. This is called the “Fulcrum Mechanism.” What is happening is that in order for your feet to turn independantly from your upper body they need something to turn against while they have weight on them. While in motion, sliding down a hill, this feels like I am transfering pressure from one ski to the other new turning ski as I apply a steering movement to make my skis go a new direction.
I’ve known about this before, but getting reminded of it today was hugh for me. All of a sudden my upper and lower body were more separate. I didn’t need to to exagerated upper body movements to get my skis to change directions. It felt much smoother and more efficient.