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Edge From the Ground Up

Use your feet and ankles, not your hips, to put your skis on edge.
posted: 03/05/2008
by Bobby Murphy

An arcing ski turn is sometimes easier to get into than out of. As your center of mass moves to the inside of a turn—and as your speed and the pitch of the slope increase—centripetal forces build up. "Move too far to the inside," says Telluride, Colo., ski instructor Bobby Murphy, "and the centripetal forces can overpower you."

Moving against those forces—so that you can get up and over the tops of your skis, down the fall line and onto a new set of edges—becomes difficult. The solution: Use your lower body, not your hips, to create edge angle.

The Problem: Trying to create edge angle by leaning into the hill with your hips causes you to get stuck on the inside of the turn. You have to brace against your skis to withstand the centripetal forces.

The Fix: Focus on your feet and ankles. Lay your poles on the ground, hip-width apart. With your skis on, stand on top of your poles, and tip only your feet and ankles from side to side, keeping your hips lined up over your knees. The tipping point created by the poles underfoot provides you with the feeling of bottom-up edging.

The Result: By using lateral movements of your feet and ankles to create edge angle, you're able to keep your hips more directly over your skis, so they don't have to move as far—against such strong forces—to get into the new turn.

Knees: Keeping them about hip-width apart, flex your knees to apply pressure to your edges.

Hips: Your hips should move to the inside of the turn only after your feet, ankles and knees have created the angles needed to put your skis on edge.

Feet/Ankles: Almost all of your lateral movements should begin in your feet. Roll your feet and ankles over to your new set of edges to get a strong grip on the snow.

Bobby Murphy is on the PSIA Alpine Demonstration Team and the director of the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School in Colorado.

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