One of my goals this year is to become a confident intermediate skier. As a snowboarder for the last 18 years I thought this would be relatively easy to accomplish. Ha, not the case. I made the attempt last year then it snowed powder almost every time I went out. Obviously the skis took the back burner and I rode my board. At the start of this season I was overcome with a case of the no confidences, I needed pro help and signed up for a lesson my first day out this season.
I met up with my group and instructor and quickly realized that the group was at a higher level than me. The instructor want to see how we were skiing and went ahead to watch us. It was my first run of the season and it was horrible as I gritted my way down the run. I was so tense that my shins were getting sore from flexing. The instructor provided some feedback to stand on the ball of your foot. That’s when I realized I was on completely on my heels, and the reason my shins hurt. It was really hard to stand on the balls of my feet, and then I figured out why. When I turned right it was similar to doing a heel side turn snowboarding and I automatically lift my toes to get on the heel edge.
Fighting my way through years of muscle memory was tough, but eventually I was standing more on the balls of my feet and very aware of lifting my toes. The instructor also helped all of us with our boots and had us redo the power strap so it goes on the inside of the buckle instead of outside. This considerable improved performance and comfort on the shin. The next thing we worked on was larger rounder turns. Following the instructor really helped.
I skied a couple more days after the lesson and worked on standing on the balls of my feet and wider rounder turns. It was coming along and my confidence was somewhat better. Then a powder day arrived and I grabbed my board. It felt awesome to be back doing something I knew so well that came naturally for me. What I didn’t expect was a small, but noticeable boost in my performance. I found standing on the balls of my feet in my snowboard boots a game changer. So much so that I increased my forward lean on my bindings not once, but twice.
Feeling more performance on my edges I focused on rounding (finishing) my turns. The turns felt awesome! I found this one perfect pitch and was doing these beautiful flowing round carve turns all the way down. As I passed the speed patrol at the intersection, one of them yelled out: “Nice turns!”. I thanked him with a wave and headed back up the chair for another delightful run.
So I bet you’re wondering what happened with the skiing? I’m still at it and even took the skis up on a powder day, which started out disastrous then recovered to decent. I’m starting to play with rolling my ankles to get the edge into the snow, but what I really need to focus on is the flow. Stay tuned and I’ll write more about the skiing on the next blog. Till then stand on the balls of your feet, hands out in front, and look down the hill.