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December 28, 2012

Outdoors: Skiing mechanics all begins with the ankles

As we start into the 2013 ski season, it might be best to review a bit about the mechanics of skiing.

As I get older, I become more aware that subtle movement can produce great results, that I don’t need to expend a great deal of energy to create smooth flow. Nothing illustrates this like the movement of the ankles.

Some times in skiing we have the right ideas about the mechanics of skiing, but often we just get them in the wrong sequence. Perhaps the most important joints we use in skiing are our ankles, but many times they are not brought into play until too late in the turning sequence.

Years ago I was skiing out in Salt Lake City with Max Lundberg, who was, at that time, the editor of Professional Skier magazine.

We talked at length about the importance of your ankles. He kept hammering away at me, repeating a simple concept which basically stated is subtle energy exerted and subtle movements made can be immediately transmitted to the ski. Exaggerated movements are only necessary when you have screwed everything else up!

Let me give you an idea of what he meant. Find a stairway in your house and sit on the third step. Go ahead ... we’ll wait. Now place your feet on the first step about shoulder width apart. Slip off your shoes as this lesson works best if you are in your bare feet or socks.

Hold your elbows to your sides and turn your hands toward the ceiling like you were carrying a tray. Sit up straight. Do not rest your elbows on your thighs or knees, but hold them a few inches above in a relaxed pose. If you put your elbows on your knees your shoulders will be too far forward.

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