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The Penny Pincher

The Penny Pincher

Turning Points
By Olle Larsson
posted: 01/10/2003

A forward body position—in which your ankles, knees and hip joints are flexed and your hands are in front of your body—will transfer pressure to the tongues of your boots and to the fronts of your skis. This allows the skis to carve cleanly. Today's skis have substantial sidecut and react favorably when pressure is applied to the front of the ski at the start of the turn. Positioning your feet under or behind your hips in the turn will produce this pressure. To get a feel for this technique, try an exercise I learned from a racing coach in Sweden.

The Penny Drill
Place a penny inside the ski boot tongue, as shown. While you hold the coin against the tongue, close the top buckles. Then press your shin against the tongue so the coin doesn't drop. Repeat this process on your other boot. The challenge is to ski from the top of the lift to the bottom without letting the coins fall. It doesn't matter how slow you ski, just make sure the shins exert enough pressure against the boot tongues to prevent the pennies from sliding into your boot liners. At the bottom of the run, remove the coins and repeat the process. Start the day with a couple of penny-pinching runs on a well-groomed hill. Then remove the pennies and increase your speed and aggressiveness, but try to ski as if the pennies were still there. Both skis should be edged the same amount against the snow because of shin pressure (not the knee, which results in an "A-frame"). The key is to retain the feeling of the pressure of both shins against the boot tongues, helping you to maintain balance, keep your skis parallel and carve clean turns.

Olle Larsson, a frequent contributor to ski-racing publications, is a coach at Rowmark Ski Academy in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Notice how Olympic medalist Bode Miller is driving forward in this photo. Miller's head extends beyond the tip of his downhill ski because he's bending at his knees and ankles—not his waist—and flexing into his boot tongues.

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