Ever since you started skiing you have been encouraged to keep your weight on the downhill ski. Now for the first time (officially) you are going to ski on your uphill ski. Try these two exercises to give you an idea of what it feels like:.
1) Choose an easy gradient and traverse across it slowly, skis flat, with weight on the lower ski. Transfer the weight to the upper ski, but keep the lower one on the ground. Don't overdo it unless you want to sit down. Tool around for a bit. Try to keep the skis moving forward with no side slipping.2) Try it on a steeper slope where you can use the edges with some angulation.
You will of course be edging with the outside edge of the upper ski. You will be climbing up the slope with steps of about 6" each time.When you are bored with this, get going on a fast traverse, angulating over the lower ski, take a step up onto your uphill ski, and as you do so, project your upper body exactly the same way as you have done before, up and forwards towards the fall line, keeping your weight on the uphill ski. As the skis come round to the fall line the uphill ski becomes the downhill ski, and changes from one edge to the other. As soon as the ski has changed from one edge to the other you begin to apply pressure on the front of it with angulation.The step up accelerates you into the turn by reducing any braking side slip on the lower ski at the start of the turn (see 'contre virage').
It is used significantly by giant slalom racers to gain height on a course, and a variation is used by slalom skiers for the same purpose. You too can use it to gain height when you are traversing round a mountain, and you realise you have to climb as well as going forwards, to reach that restaurant for lunch.You will notice that stopping after doing several of these high speed turns is an art in itself. It is safer to convert to a few short turns, which applies the brakes slowly, before coming to a stop. Going straight into a standard christie stop from 40 mph with your head and shoulders almost touching the ground, and a fountain of snow spraying skywards, is asking for trouble.
CONTRE VIRAGE - TAIL SLIDE.Contre Virage (literally from the French 'against the turn') is a good one for the bar at the day's end, but is a simple enough manoeuvre. All it involves is bringing your downhill hand up and towards your chest in a short arc! If you are going fast enough the back of the skis will slide round. This can have a useful braking effect as the skis are coming round against the fall line, and with angulation can have quite a dramatic result. You can also use it to initiate an edge set prior to breaking into short turns at the end of these long fast turns you are doing.
How does it work? Once again it's your natural torsion at work again. When you bring your arm up, your shoulder twists round a bit, followed by the muscles down your side, your thigh, your lower leg, your heel, and low and behold the tail of your ski. You may remember that you can achieve the same kind of tail slide by the rapid drop of your upper body in the short turns. The result is the same, but they are different methods for different turns. Contre Virage depends on steering while the rapid drop depends on unweighting.
If you are unsure of the differnces between unweighting the skis and steering the skis in order to turn them, check out the article entitled 'How Turns are Made'..Simon Dewhurst has taught downhill skiing in North America, Scandinavia and the European Alps for 35 years. He currently runs a ski chalet agency in the French Alps. His book "Secrets of Better Skiing" can be found at http://www.
ski-jungle.com. If you have any comments about the above article, he will be happy to answer them.
By: Simon Dewhurst