Racing helps carved turns

Everybody seems to be racing these days. National standard races, family races, ski club races, self-timing race courses -- is the entire ski world running gates?

Well, it's fun. Going for a gold, silver, bronze, or whatever the local reward adds to your ski day the vicarious thrill of being "a ski racer." Beyond that, it can be a quick and objective way to measure how well you are carving a turn.

One thing racers say you learn quickly is the feeling of carving the whole turn. In other words, if you're properly carving a turn, the entire ski passes over a given point in the snow. Under pressure from your foot, the outside ski in particular is flattened or decambered. It is storing up energy so that as you release the edges to start the new turn the ski actually accelerates. When that happens, you know you've finished a turn. It feels right because the ski is doing a lot of the work.

The trick is to be neither too far forward or too far back. Either way, the tails will skid out at the end of the turn, decelerating instead of speeding your turn. In the latter case -- I well know -- you'll also feel somewhat out of control and lose your line through the gates.

What's needed is to feel the pressure or weight over the entire foot throughout the turn. Subtly, it will shift from front to back as you complete the turn. But the entire foot is the key, say a lot of racers. Once you've got this feeling down, they add, you'll progress naturally to the racing step turn.

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