Since this season started, I’ve been struggling with getting into the “backseat”. That is, as I weight my back ski, I’ve had a tendency to use my upper body to put pressure on the back ski. Essentially, I start to lean back as the turn progresses. Bad.
In the telemark, a good upright upper body position, weight squarely between the feet, really helps. Watch great skiers. While the knees and ankles are working, and while angulated, even deeply angulated, the upper body seems to remain relatively still. In powder, this is particularly helpful.
Readers may remember that during my “lead change revolution” I had some trouble finding that front-to-back, balancing sweet spot? That issue came back with a vengeance at the beginning of the season and has been dogging me ever since.
After much telemark bliss while skiing snow fields last Spring, I’m fairly certain that I once again developed this issue because over the Summer, I’d been trying to get onto the ball of my foot rather than using my toes. Toes are not optimal. More foot, more control. And, control of the back ski is critical.
Two weeks ago, I stumbled upon a cure. Well, “stumbled” isn’t quite the word. “Danced”?
I started remaining a little higher after switching edges after initiating the new turn. Then, at some mysterious point when on the new edges, I’d sink into position. bingo, perfection.
Except, I wasn’t at all sure what I’d actually done?!?
Something having to do with up through edge change, then down to drive the turn through to completion. But what exactly? At the end of the day, I couldn’t say. Uh, oh…
On my next ski days, I had to deconstruct, then reconstruct my new technique so that I can repeat this magic every turn, every day.
What do I think I’m doing? I haven’t yet videoed this, so I could be mistaken. This description is from the inside out.
As described previously, the lead change is delayed until after the new inside ski has been edged. The new lead ski is brought forward and then weighted.
In order to initiate a turn, the body must move downhill. I use my pole plant for this. For telemark turns, I find that a definitive move of the hips downhill makes a better initiation.
In the movement downhill, I also release my edges, and thus, my angulation and knees. It looks like I move up. But that probably isn’t really true. I do come upwards a little bit. Standing is definitely counterproductive as the skis will float downhill gaining speed uncontrollably rather than rolling to the new edge.
As soon as I feel my new edges on the snow, and particularly the new inside edge, I angulate into the new turn. But I wait to go into the lower, telemark position until my new lead foot is moving forward.
As the new lead foot gets close to my comfort stance, I lower into telemark position and begin to ride the carve. And carve this turn will.
When I want a quicker turn, I lower and weight both skis much more quickly. Voilà! Short swing teles.
This slight change seems some sort of magic. I’m not at all sure of the effects on the skis, but it all sure makes beautiful arcs that are efficient and very sweet to ride.
Let me know what you think.