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The Mountain Goat Technique

 

SnowOnline-Feb-18-Mountain-Goat---Featured

 

Confident body positioning and commitment will get you down the steep and deep with ease

BY: Josh Foster

Skiing steep terrain can be an exhilarating rush. There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you conquer an aggressive piste. To do this takes commitment, not only in your mind set but also in your movements. Without it you’ll only get halfway there, and getting halfway through a turn on the steeps can mean that you’ll find yourself at the bottom in a heap! Here are a few suggestion to help you ski the steeps with confidence … and a bit of style.

One of the more difficult things to do on a steep slope is to get your skis turned and facing in the other direction, especially when you’re just starting your run. One of the most common mistakes here is to lean up the hill where your skis become “locked” on their edges. Here’s where that point about commitment comes into play; you need to move down the hill – not up. A body position that’s holding “back” more often than not reveals a mental attitude that’s also holding back. Adding a dash of confidence will do you wonders! Try to start your turn with a little hop, not too big, just enough to get your skis slightly off the snow. This will release the edges and allow your body to move down the hill. Let your body release down the slope again and this will get some rhythm going. Start slowly, almost like you’re taking it one turn at a time. Once you feel comfortable with the hops, see if you can take them out of the process and extend your legs into the middle of the next turn; this will help keep your body moving down the hill and not hanging back. Once you achieve this, your run will be a little smoother and the link between turns won’t be as hard to make.

Another common mistake on the steeps happens towards the end of the turn, where the tails of the skis wash or skid out. This is happening because you have turned your upper body into the hill. Next time you’re on a steep pitch try this; ski like a mountain goat. If you’ve ever seen a mountain goat standing on a mountain side you’ll know what I mean. They stand with their shoulders facing slightly down the slope with their rear end facing up the slope. This puts them in an excellent balanced and stable position; maybe that’s why they’re not extinct. You can do this same thing by finishing your turn with a strong pole plant and making sure that all of the people up hill from you get a good look at your butt. This will help you get the grip that you need.

Skiing the steep and deep terrain is all about confidence and commitment. Commit at the start of the turn by letting your body move down the slope, looking down the mountain. You will create rhythm by continuing to move. From my experience, confidence often comes from getting good edge grip, so make moves that keep you balanced against your outside ski while maintaining a stable upper body and an active lower body. In this case, the cliché of one good turn deserves another most definitely holds true. Committing with your body and moving into the start of the turn helps get you set up to finish the turn confidently with edge grip that will flow from one turn into the next.