In the last column we focused on unlocking your skiing and this week we will focus on airplane turns.
We are a little more than waist deep into the ski season now and the snow just gets deeper and the storms keep coming. The work of getting fit for skiing and reviewing the basic skiing skills is behind us, so now we can have some fun, take on fresh challenges and learn some new skills.
Once you are comfortable skiing your favourite black diamond run with quick fall line turns and solid pole plants, it is time to really play with the terrain. The airplane turn allows you to get a little air time and turn at the same time. This makes it sound challenging but it really is a tool to control speed and can help initiate turns in tough snow and terrain, all the while making you look like a free skiing rock star!
How do you bring this into your skiing?
1. I suggest that you start on an easy ungroomed run that has some moguls. Nugget is a good one as it has a variety of terrain that you can have fun with.
2. Have a good look ahead at the terrain and plan your line so that you can ski over a larger bump as you come across the hill.
3. Control your speed and plant your pole right on the top of the feature and put as much of your weight on the pole as you can.
4. Add a little hop off the top of the feature and keep your pole planted as it is your pivot point.
5. By turning your body to face the fall line your skis will naturally follow and by the time they touch down they should be pointing down the hill.
6. Absorb the landing and finish the turn that you initiated in the air!
The biggest challenge with this skill is getting the timing dialed, so practice it in a variety of situations before you charge down the Blast and launch yourself off of the dragon.
You can add a bit of extra steaze by crossing your skis in the air or adding a grab which really impresses the kids!
If you are reading this and thinking that your goal for the season is to keep your skis firmly on the snow and air time means that you have either lost control or possibly lost your mind then you can use this as an extra unweighting skill for bumpy terrain. Instead of pulling your skis up into the air, you can lift the tails slightly and slide them around.
There is no shortage of free riding rock stars at Whitewater so if you don’t huck your meat then at least shout some encouragement from the chair when someone does!
Dylan Henderson is the head coach for the Whitewater Ski Team. He is a certified development level coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association. His goal is to give you something to keep your skiing fresh every week even if the snow is not.