Many first-time skiers look down steep ski slopes and succumb to fear. For the expert steep slope skier though, the adrenaline rush motivates them to make the move.
The great advantage of learning how to ski steep slopes is that you now have access to even more thrilling terrain. It is important that you fully understand what to wear skiing.
If you have never tried skiing the steepest slopes, do not worry, with practice you can conquer even the steepest ski.
This is how to ski steep slopes.
Stacking the body, the right way
The body posture and the right balance are the keys to skiing steep slopes. You need to ensure that you maintain proper form at all times. This is the same as learning how to turn on skis. The focus should be on the feet to the upper body. let’s find out more.
Take a look at the 10 ski safety tips every skier must know.
Maintain feet balance
Due to the sheer drop below, fear makes skiers pull their upper body backward. This shifts their body weight to the heels which in turn causes them to slide forward. However, the bodyweight should be well balanced between the heels and the balls of the feet. This allows you to maintain control and not to slide and fall.
Once again fear will get you thinking that bringing your hips back is a much safer option. However, you will be shifting your weight on the heels which increases the odds of you slipping and falling. This is not the best thing when on steep slopes.
Instead, you should move your hips forward, as scary as this may sound. It ensures that the weight is evenly distributed between the heels and the balls of your feet.
If you want to carry your essentials with you, a ski backpack is an excellent way to carry them.
You should always ensure that the knees do not lock in a stance. This is a very common occurrence caused by fear. It reduces the control of your body weight as well as on the skis.
The best thing is to ensure that the knees remain flexible to maintain control.
The head needs to be in the right position as well. Keep the head up and not bent and focusing on your feet. Your vision should be focused on where you are looking to go but not a few feet in front of you.
When your head is up, you will achieve a better balance. Always ensure that you are wearing the best ski helmet to keep your head protected.
Note that having the right posture will keep you balanced until you reach the bottom of the slope. It is your skeleton that will maintain a good posture. While the muscles may tire when you are out of a posture, the skeleton will not so you must focus on maintaining a good skeletal posture.
It will provide you with the best support.
The upper body
You want to make sure that your upper body remains stable and that it is not wobbly. The lower body’s job is to make the turns.
Ensure that the upper body remains stable and perpendicular to the slope. Also, as we have noted above, it is far better to have a slight bend forward that to lean back into the slope.
The hands need to maintain the right position as the wrong position can swiftly throw you off balance. If you can see them with your peripheral vision then they are in a great position. However, if you cannot see them and they are at the back of your hips, then your balance is at risk as they will cause you to lean back.
You will have a much better body position when the hands are at the front of the hips. Keep your hands well insulated with the best ski gloves.
Getting the prerequisite skills
When practicing you will not start with the steep ski slopes. Instead, you will begin with a more comfortable, flatter ground. Only after you have mastered a few skills will you graduate to the steep slopes.
The dynamic parallel
When performing the parallel turn, you will be bringing both skis in a parallel position during the turn. Steep slopes require a more dynamic parallel turn to allow you to maneuver and make more efficient turns.
In this case, your ankles, knees, and hips will be more flexible and will shift more. Your hips will also be turning more and the entire movement needs to be fluid.
Ski poles will help you catch the rhythm when making the dynamic parallel turns.
Short radius turns
Skiers begin by learning long and medium radius turns. These take more time to complete. However, when you are dealing with steep slopes and obstacles in your patch, you need to change direction sharply and quickly.
In medium or long radius turns, you will take a moment to move your skis from one edge to the opposite edge. This is not so with the short radius turns. You will quickly shift your weight from since to side to make smaller and quicker turns, these are excellent at avoiding obstacles at full speed.
Make sure you are using only the best ski poles.
Carving is where you ski on the edges of your skis. If you say you were to look up a slope you would likely see S shapes on the snow. This is as a result of the skiers using the edges of their skis.
To perform a curve, you need to apply pressures on the ankles, the hips, and the knees. When it’s time to move in the other direction, you are simply going to shift your weight in the opposite direction as well.
The kick turn will help you change direction when you are moving fast downhill and it is getting difficult to change your direction. You must know how to properly kick turn on skis. Start by ensuring that the skis are moving sideways to the slopes and that both the poles are on the uphill side. This will provide you with greater balance.
Then take the downhill ski and lift it forward. You will also be picking up the toe and hill thus reversing the direction.
Your feet are now in an uncomfortable position where they are pointing in two different directions. Next, shift your body weight onto the downward ski and then swing the uphill ski around and bring it parallel to the other ski. This is now the new downhill ski.
The hockey stop allows the skier to come to a dead stop quickly. If you know how to perform parallel skiing, then doing the hockey stop should be simple.
When you are skiing fast downslope and your upper body is facing the direction you are skiing towards, you will move both skis in the opposite position to your upper body and dig the edges into the snow.
This should cause you to stop. It gets its name from the maneuver that ice hockey players make when they want to come to a stop.
A good pair of ski pants will prevent the cold snow from getting in from underneath.
Working your way to steeper slopes
Before you can conquer the steepest slopes, it is a good idea to start small. Go with less steep slopes and even while you do pick a steep edge make sure that it is a short distance away from the bottom.
Gradually you will practice your skills until finally, you can get up to the highest diamond chute.
The steep groomers
When you are at the top of a groomer and looking down makes you want to let go of your previous meal, then you are not ready to ski down the steep ski slopes.
To gain the comfort needed to head down the steep slopes you need to practice. Instead of just choosing a less steep section of a run, challenge yourself and go for a much steeper section.
Find the steepest intermediate runs that you can find and practice on these and once your confidence builds, you are ready for the steepest ski.
And when you have tackled all of the groomed steep ruins, you are now ready to head off-piste. Here the terrain is new and untouched and offers an even higher level of challenge. However, the advantage of this is that you can now expand the terrain which gives you even more options.
Take a look at what to expect when skiing off-piste.
Some steep skiing techniques
When you are skiing down steep slopes, you will need a few techniques as well. You can practice with each of these.
All common sense is against leaning downhill. However, when it comes to steep slopes, leaning downhill is a useful skill. You should focus on fighting any urge that is telling you to lean backward.
And it doesn’t matter where your skills are headed, ensure that your head and upper body are facing downwards.
Planting poles downhill
Planting the poles downhill will help initiate steep turns. When you reach downhill you can position your body much better.
When you are an expert skier you can carry different pole planting techniques in your arsenal of tricks. One of these is the blocking pole plant which helps in changing the speed of a turn.
Doing hop turns
When the patch is narrow you may need to perform the hop turn. Here you will need to exaggerate the extension at the start of the turn and this will pick the skis up off the snow. Note that you will finish the turn in the air. You will be flexing your knees when you land. Also, you will need to do the pole plants.
Depending on the type of snow, you will also need to know how to ski powder.
Controlling your speed
You need to be able to control your speed when riding those steep slopes. You can do this in different ways one of which is to use the bottom of your turn to slow down or head uphill slightly.
If you did the carving turns you are going to speed up the ski. On the other hand, Doing skidding turns will slow down the skis. If you need to avoid an object ahead of you or even another skier, you can perform the hockey stop.
If you are a clever skier you are going to read the terrain and find out areas in which you are going to turn or stop. You can slow down by finding a place to rise a slope.
Also, carve a turn when you are on a rollover and avoid skiing right over the fall line. This will enable you to slow down. If you are not familiar with this technique, make sure that you learn how to carve ski before heading on steep slopes. While the adrenaline rush is what makes it all worthwhile, you want to make sure that you are always in control of the speed.
Adjusting the turn shape
Note that the shape of the turn has a huge impact when skiing steep slopes. You can make rounded carved turns to slow down or speed up the skis. If you pressure the working ski you will slow down and the longer you keep this up the slower you will get.
Also, the skis will slow down if they are turned uphill before you begin the next turn. Keep in mind that a broad radius turn will work best on wide slopes. You will be more successful with small radius turns on narrow slopes.
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Skiing steep slopes will require practice to help you get over the fear and gain more confidence. You will also learn more skills to help you gain and maintain control when riding those extremely steep slopes. When you are ready for the steepest ski, you can head up that double black diamond chute.
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- How to ski steep slopes, skiweekends.com