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Ask The Professor: Lazy Legs

Fall Line
posted: 10/16/2000

My left leg isn't as strong as my right, so I have trouble turning to the right. Even when I turn left, my right leg dominates. How can I eliminate this problem?
Jan M. Kuylenstierna
Coral Gables, Fla.

Take heart. Your complaint is so common it's all but universal. Seventy-five years ago, when formal ski instruction was in its infancy, Austrian ski teachers already talked about students' "chocolate sides"¿the direction they preferred to turn.

The sweet side almost always shows up when somebody has to make a sudden, panic stop. In your case, you would automatically crank your skis to the left.

It has nothing to do with being right or left-handed. I'm left-handed, but, like you, right-footed. In tight situations, I'll sometimes distrust my left leg and lunge to the right. I always have to work harder on my weak side. Everybody does. Even the world's best skiers.

You have already taken the first step toward eliminating the problem¿recognizing it. Many skiers never realize they have a "lazy" side.

But you may be so preoccupied with it that you are overcompensating with other movements. Here's a basic action plan to help solve the problem:

  • Stretch and work out in the gym to be sure both legs are equally strong¿and equally flexible.
  • Make sure your boots are properly aligned with your lower legs and that you are canted correctly.
  • Find a smooth, easy slope; then ski slowly, focusing on your feet. Transfer weight from one foot to the other. Each time you start a right turn, pressure the left ski deliberately and edge it. Be patient. Even if it feels forced, don't resort to the security of your right leg.
  • Finally, find a pro to help you eliminate bad habits in your hips, arms or upper body. He or she will immediately spot weaknesses you might never notice.
    ¿The Professor

    Have a question for The Professor? Write Stu Campbell at scampbell@skimag.com.

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