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Skiing a Pinch Line

Skiing a Pinch Line

Tactics are key when your line gets tight. A well-planned entry begets a successful exit.
posted: 12/20/2011
how to ski a pinch line
How to ski a pinch line

1. Prep Turn › Your next turn sets your trajectory, so this is your chance to adjust your line before you have to commit. Focus on the spot where your next turn will finish because that will set up your entry. 

2. Setup › Use this turn to get your skis aimed right at your target so that, from here to the exit, you won’t have to make any more directional adjustments.

3. Money Shot › As space constricts, keep your skis running straight through the pinch. Just let ’em ride. This is no place for second thoughts or indecision.

4. Exit › You’ve been building speed for some distance; you’ll want to shut it down as you reach the open space. anyone who’s gone before has taken the same line, so expect bumps or tracked-out snow.

How to Ski It › A pinch or slot like this one can form early as snow fills in or late as it recedes. If you can, scout the pinch from a distance to determine your optimal route. In some cases, it’s best to reverse-engineer your course: Pinpoint your exit, then draw an imaginary line backward to determine the best entry point. From there, extend the line back another two or three turns to figure out where and how to set up your entry. Make mental notes of those spots and the distances between them. When you’re ready to drop in, commit to those spots, adjusting your turns as necessary to stay on track. Pay attention to the details. Remember: your speed could be high as you exit, so choose a route you can control.


1. Not So Smart › If your skis point down the fall line here, you’ll have to either make a risky sharp turn in the pinch or straightline and hope you can hop over the rock outcrop before making a sharp turn immediately as you exit.

2. Smart › A wide setup turn might take you slightly below the entry point, but it gives you time and space to align your ski tips with the safest, cleanest exit point and guarantees a smooth ride through the pinch.

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