See tree, stare at tree, hit tree. See rock, stare at rock, hit rock. Whether you're on a bike or skis, focusing on an obstacle is a sure-fire way to smack right into it. So, while you're riding your mountain bike this fall, use this time to refine the all-important "look ahead" technique for skiing.
The first rule of thumb: Keep shifting your focus down the hill, ahead of what's passing beneath you. In Fig. 1, I'm looking downhill toward the second waterbar (Fig. 3), ignoring the first waterbar, which I pass over in Fig. 2. Never let your vision linger on the obstacles in front of you (see "right" and "wrong" below) because your skis or bike will follow your line of vision. Like a moth to a flame, you'll be burnt before you know what hit you.
Singletrack riding also mimics skiing in that a quiet upper body is critical to fast, stable turns. When dropping into a rough section, absorb the terrain changes with your knees, letting the bike float beneath you (Fig. 2). Just as on skis, you'll steer more effectively.
Jimmy Archer is a pro triathlete with a degree in exercise physiology from the University of Colorado. He has skied for 17 years.