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Ask the Experts: October 2001

Evolution
posted: 09/15/2001

Gear

Secrets Of Sidecuts
I'm ready to buy a shaped ski, but I'm confused about how to compare sidecuts. Help!
John Cabela
Detroit, Mich.

Fortunately, sidecuts are easy to figure out. The key is understanding how they work and what type of ski best fits your style. When you tip a shaped ski on edge, the tip and tail, which are much wider than the waist (middle), dig into the snow first. Meanwhile, your weight, pressing on the waist, causes the ski to bend until the entire edge, from tip to tail, is in contact with the snow. Now the ski is a curved knife, ready to slice the snow in an arc (a carved turn), provided you don't let your tail skid around behind you. What's a radius? Merely a means of measuring how deep the sidecut is. Imagine laying a ski flat on a parking lot, then tracing one side of it with chalk. If you were to continue that chalk arc into a full circle and measure the radius, you would have your ski's sidecut-radius. Skis with shorter radii (deeper sidecuts) tend to make tighter turns than skis with shallower sidecuts. Most ski-makers have settled in the 15- to 25-meter radius range (down from 35 to 50 meters in the old days), which is a nice manageable shape. (Remember: smaller radius means deeper sidecut.) Sidecuts are width measurements taken at the tip, waist and tail. As for waist width: narrow ones (60-65 mm) hold well on ice (think ice skate); wider ones (70 and up) float better in soft snow (think toboggan). But don't overanalyze. Push off, rip and enjoy.
¿The Gear Geek

Have a question for The Gear Geek? Write Joe Cutts at jcutts@skimag.com.

Instruction

Seek Help, Fast
I have a friend who is stuck in the wedge. How can I help her make the transition to parallel?
Don Misselhorn
Lancaster, Pa. ...

Trying to teach friends to ski rarely works, even when intentions are the best. Leave that to the pros. (See SKI's Top 100 Ski Instructors, page 210). A few people stay in the wedge for a lifetime of skiing. But that's rare these days with improved equipment and instruction. Your friend must not be pushed too hard to abandon the security of the wedge. When she really wants to make a parallel turn in tough conditions (for her), she needs to express this goal to a professional instructor, who may solve the problem in just a few minutes.Currently, she is comfortable changing the edge of one ski, then the other to make turns and check speed. The key to a "parallel" turn is to change both edges of both skis at the same time. Touching the inside pole to the snow just as this edge change happens makes us feel stable and eases the turn transition. It may help to suggest this poling technique to her and let her try it for a while. Just knowing and understanding a few basics often gets results.Keep in mind for her, as well as yourself, that sequential edge changes are not necessarily less sophisticated than simultaneous ones (which constitute parallel turns). Changing both edges at the same time is just a milestone on the way to making advanced sequential edge changes¿like World Cup racers.No matter how "good" we are at skiing, we're all still learning. Parallel turns are not the be-all and end-all of skiing. The goal is not just about nailing tight turns with your feet together. It's about enjoying yourself¿with friends who don't nag you.
¿The Professor

Have a question for The Professor? Write Stu Campbell at stucski@aol.com

Fitness

Double-Dipper
What can I do to get in shape for both skiing and boarding?
Charlie Cowell
Bakersfield, Calif.

There is a lot of overlap. For both sports, you must stretch and strengthen your lower body (hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes) and your core (back and abdomiinal muscles). Where the two diverge is that ski-fitness focuses on weighting one leg, with exercises such as the one-legged squat. (For details, go to Ski Fit's archive at skimag.com.) Follow a ski regimen (see page 102), and then add a few snowboard-specific exercises. Try isometric squats, in which you drop into a squat position (see page 106) and hold it for 15- to 45-second intervals. Also, stand on a curb, two-by-four or even two pillows and balance in your riding stance with your eyes closed. Start by holding the position for 30 seconds, and add time as you improve.
¿The Trainer

Have a question for The Trainer? Write Kellee Katagi at kkatagi@skimag.com.

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